Zoo blooms – a Scoot and Shoot event

 

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Zoo blooms at Cincinnati Zoo – April 23, 2014

Walk a while among the tulips,

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where a single bloom can be perfection.

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White-faced Scops Owl from Africa. Three years old and full-grown.

See nature in all it’s majesty and intrigue.

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See nature in all its glory.

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One gorilla hides behind a tree.

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The other stands for all to see.

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A perfect pair of lions stand side by side.

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And a polar bear follows his nose with a smile.

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Celebrate spring.

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Celebrate life in all its design.

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Celebrate life in all its humor.

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Celebrate a pile of sand that arrives today.

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Life is beautiful. Life is good.

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Live it.

 

See more Scoot and Shoot posts here.

 


What would you do?

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Party table decorations – taken October 3, 2013

I told you all about the Project 365 challenge I was doing where I have to take a photograph every day. I can save them up and post them in batches, but the idea is that I shoot one every day. I started this in August and was vigilant about getting a photo every day even if that meant I had to take a picture of Arthur pulling on my shoelaces as I sat in my recliner late at night, or I had to walk around my yard yet again and try to find a spot of color in the waning flowers.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, my “What would you do?”  is not an earth-shattering question or dilemma, just a little getting-to-know-you-better question.

You might have noticed my recent absence, or short cameo appearances, in the blogging world. We have been planning, preparing, and then throwing a celebration or reception at our home for our son and daughter-in-law who got married in a private ceremony in August. The party was this weekend, so once I clean up the crumbs, wash the sheets and towels, and put away the toys, my to-do list will become exponentially shorter.

I was still able to get my one photo a day in the days leading up to the party. I took pictures of the mums we were shopping for, and the solar globe lanterns we hung on our deck. But when our children and grandchildren started arriving for the weekend, and the party day came, I fell off the photo wagon. You would think the opposite would be true, but not so.

So here’s my question. What should I do about the photo a day?

Should I wave a white flag and say, “This is really too large a comitment, I’m going to abandon it after only two months” ?

Should I cheat and take make-up pictures today changing the meta data to make it look like I kept going?

Should I just leave the days without photos blank, and keep going from here, accepting the fact that I’m not perfect, nor do I need to be?

What would you do?


What’s blooming now that it’s September

It’s been a while since I photographed the flowers in our gardens, but to be honest, it’s been a rough summer on them and they haven’t looked all that picture worthy.

Recently Mark and I spent a couple of days digging out the last swatch of Chameleon Ivy tangled with the roots of the Liriope and Daylilies in the Angel Garden. Halleluia. I think we are done with that for the most part.

In our St. Francis Garden the roses have made a come-back since earlier scorching heat followed by a good drenching, or vice versa, pretty much decimated them. I cut them all back and they came out in full force a week or two ago. They are starting to fade now. And the Sedum are starting to turn color. Otherwise it is pretty lean pickin’s in the garden. We plan to plant some mums again this fall. For some reason we’ve not had good success with them here.

Out front the Hosta are blooming and so are the Liriope. We have quite a few Liriope around the yard and in the garden.

We added a few Caryopteris to the Angel Garden last year. I’ve always loved this blue misty bush.

And finally a single zinnia bloom made it to the light of day. I think the deer have been pruning the plants that sprouted from the seeds I planted in the spring. I like to cut zinnias to bring them inside. Perhaps a bud vase this year. I dead-headed the spent daisies a few weeks ago while we were working on the ivy, but a few are brightening up the garden still. Let’s hear it for the late bloomers. We put marigolds in a bare spot that we are trying to decide what to do with. We may keep that area for annuals. It’s nice to have color you can count on all summer.

I was thinking about abandoning the Woodland Garden. It is just a lot of gardens to take care of. But I walked up there today to see if there were any wildflowers blooming. The Woodland Garden looks so inviting. I startled a robin that was perched on a tree. I may take my camera and camp out on the bench some afternoon to see if any of my winged friends come to call. I think I may keep the garden after all.

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And my final bloomer isn’t a flower at all, bu the berries that came after the flowers on the Gray Dogwood trees (or shrubs). I think they deserved mention. Don’t you?

How are the flowers doing where you are?


The 365 project — a self-portrait

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Self portrait—in the rear view mirror, August 6, 2013

Just when I need another project, I started taking part in the 365Project. One of my photographer friends who I met last year at the Balloon Glow, and who invited me to join the West Chester Photo Club, told me about the 365project. The idea is to take a photo a day and post it on your page there. You don’t have to post every day, but the photo should be taken each day.

Like many of the other social sites, you can make friends and comment on others’ photos. I think I will be able to learn a lot about photography this way.

You can find my photos here.

If you decide to join me there, make sure and let me know. You can tell me here or friend me there. I hope you will.


Scenes of summer

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Morning swim lesson at the VOA – June 2013

I’ve been snapping photos here and there the last few weeks. I’m taking this opportunity to share them with you now.

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Hummingbird – June 04, 2013

This little hummer was making daily visits for a while. I haven’t seen him lately. He liked some of the potted plants on our deck.

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House wren – June 04, 2013

I call this one  “House wren in bird house.”

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Fawn – July 18, 2013

This hillside across the drive from our house used to be thick with honeysuckle. Mark has cleared a large section of it out. The little fawn decided to take a bit of a rest here.

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Fawn – July 18, 2013

I didn’t see the mother nearby. Perhaps she told this little guy to wait for her here.

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Sunflowers – July 19, 2013

Not bad for a few volunteers. I’m enjoying the height and color they’ve added to my garden.

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Male American Goldfinch on sunflowers – July 19, 2013

I call this one “Elevensies” after a tradition brought to me by a good friend and once-coworker, Cathy, who needed that morning snack to get through to lunch.

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Young buck – July 18, 2013

I’m not sure why this buck only has one antler. I googled it and nosed around a bit, but there was too much reading involved for the amount of time I wanted to spend. Perhaps you know and can tell me.

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Male American Goldfinch on sunflower – July 19, 2013

I call this one “Yellow.”

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Female American Goldfinch on sunflower – July 19, 2013

Let’s not forget the female. She clearly wanted her portrait taken as well.

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House wren – July 20, 2013

I was sitting at my computer desk, minding my own business, when this little guy started hopping back and forth on the two porch rockers sitting outside our large study window. He was there for quite a while before he flew up into the tree. And he was giving me the what-for. I’m not sure what he was carrying on about.

I suppose that’s just one more thing I’ll never know.


Traveling with Arthur — to Cedar Falls

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The trail to Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills State Park was another easy one to travel although there were more steps than the Ash Cave lower trail. And we were actually walking on a dirt path instead of a concrete one for most of the way.

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Interestingly enough, we were informed that there are actually no cedar trees in this park, although there are a lot of evergreens that I think were primarily hemlocks. Not sure where the name for Cedar Falls came from. An amateur botanist or two, no doubt.

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But there is a nice trail of water creating reflective still pools and gurgling along the trail to or, I suppose more technically correct, from Cedar Falls.

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Arthur was trying to figure out how to get a cool drink from his perch above the stream.

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It’s a beautiful and serene place to walk.

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Because of all the spring rain the falls were fully cascading. Mark remembered there was only a trickle here during our last visit several years ago.

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Cedar Falls is a popular attraction at Hocking Hills, and even on a Monday in April we found several people there. New friends for Arthur.

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I tried to get pictures of the water flowing smoothly, which you do by setting a slow shutter speed, which also creates blurred photos if you don’t have a tripod. Mine was in the car where it did me absolutely no good.

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So I did the best I could. This is something I will work on later, with my tripod.

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On the way back the trail ended at a crevice in stone. The children of a family of five who had already passed through were happy to tell us we could get through if we squeezed through the crevice, climbed down some boulders, and hopped across some stones in the creek.

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Arthur missed the part about skipping across the stones, as evidenced by the lower half of each leg.

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We saw this sign on the other side of the creek as we continued on our way.
Oops.
You can see the remnants of what might have been a bridge in the rubble in the background.

No harm, no fowl.
Just two grown adults and a little white dog.


When shadows are long

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The shadows are long at the start of day

when the earth moves to greet the sun once more.

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At the edge of the night filled with dreams and desire

the rays of the sun strike through

and light up the earth

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and shine through the leaves

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and shoot past the trees.

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The shadows are long when day first begins.

By noon they will be gone.


After Mardi Gras

Our youngest son, Mark Joseph, is working at a small design firm in New Orleans as a co-op this semester. Just in time for Mardi Gras, the Superbowl, and the Jazz Festival. Last weekend we visited him after Mardi Gras.

But I had heard the stories and always wondered what it would be like to be in New Orleans for Carnivale. It was nice having our own private foreign correspondent covering the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans while we watched from a safe distance and in the comfort of our own home miles away.

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Mark Joseph is barely visible exiting the house where he lives in New Orleans

In New Orleans, the Mardi Gras celebrations begin at least a month in advance of Fat Tuesday with weekend parades that ratchet up to daily parades as the big day approaches. The parades are a big deal there and organizations and “crews” start preparing for next year’s event before the debris from this year’s has been swept away.

As the parades wind through downtown, the French Quarter, uptown, and the suburbs, streets are lined with revelers anxious to catch beaded necklaces or other items thrown from the people on the floats and in the parades.

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Zulu parade through New Orleans – February 12, 2013 – courtesy of Mark Joseph Grote

The Zulu (social aid and pleasure club) parade is one of the most popular.

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“Of all the throws to rain down from the many floats in the parades during carnival, the Zulu coconut or “Golden Nugget” is the most sought after. The earliest reference to the coconut appears to be about 1910 when the coconuts were given from the floats in their natural “hairy” state. Some years later there is a reference to Lloyd Lucus, “the sign painter,” scraping and painting the coconuts. This, in all likelihood, was the forerunner to the beautifully decorated coconuts we see today,” (http://www.kreweofzulu.com/history).

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Mark Joseph was thrilled to catch one of Zulu’s coconuts. These are the prizes of parade-goers.

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Photo courtesy of Mark Joseph Grote

Another very popular parade is the Muses parade where they throw decorated shoes out to the crowd. Technically, Mark Joseph didn’t actually “catch” this shoe, proving once again it is all about who you know. When we visited Mark Joseph this past weekend, we enjoyed having dinner with the creator of this shoe who told us she has already begun work on next year’s shoes.

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Photo courtesy of Mark Joseph Grote

I didn’t catch the name of this parade, but felt it deserved notice. I’m not sure what, if anything, these guys were throwing to the crowd. Remote controllers perhaps?

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Photo courtesy of Mark Joseph Grote

All this revelry and throwing of things does lead to something of a mess after the parade passes by, but we have it on the best authority, that in a manner similar to the autumn leaves of Camelot, the bits of paper are whisked away at night.

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Some beads, however, are left dangling from tree limbs,

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whether accidentally

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or intentionally thrown there.

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Sometimes there’s simply no denying the intentionality of the bead decorations around poles,

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or on gates.

They add to the effect of other left-over decortations that brighten the houses, doorways, and balconies of New Orleans after Mardi Gras.

See more posts about New Orleans.


Audubon BirdCam – Take-1

I was excited when Mark surprised me with an Audubon BirdCam for Christmas. Now I could see what was going on outside when I wasn’t watching.

As you may know, beginning December 2, the months of December and January were difficult months for me as I tried to help manage our parents’ illnesses and moves to other living facilities. I was gone a lot, stopping home for brief pit stops, a change of clothes, a good night’s sleep. Under normal circumstances, given an exciting gift like the BirdCam, I would have immediately rushed outside and set it up. But these weren’t normal circumstances, so you’ll understand that I didn’t get my BirdCam set up outside until January 3rd.

Under normal circumstances, I would have been checking the BirdCam for new photos daily. As it was, I left it up outside and didn’t give it a second thought until February 11th, when I went out to retrieve the stunning photos of  birds that I was sure my new BirdCam had recorded in my absence.

I thought I’d share my first results using the BirdCam with you in the slide show below.

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One thing you will notice right away is that the BirdCam did an excellent job of recording Mark, in various states of dress, filling the bird feeders throughout the weeks. You might also notice he was accompanied by Arthur at times who kept watch. You can see other wildlife, even an occasional bird or two, the best shots being of the squirrel that attempted to sneak its way up the pole. And you undoubtedly noticed the fine up close shot the BirdCam got of my red purse when I retrieved the photos.

Here is a cropped and enlarged photo of what may be a hawk in flight—the pride and joy of my first attempt with the BirdCam.

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Clearly, the BirdCam is not idiot-proof and I suspect I could profit from taking a close look at the instruction manual.

However, if I ever need to see what Mark is up to outside, I have the equipment to do it.


A beautiful place to rest – Spring Grove Cemetery

“If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”
  Khalil Gibran ~ On Death

Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati is one of the largest nonprofit cemeteries in the United States.

It is a National Historic Landmark with graves of both revolutionary war and civil war soldiers.

“When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight. . .”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Footsteps of Angels

Spring Grove is a beautiful cemetery and is famous for its lawn plan, unconventional at the time of its creation, but now a model for many other cemeteries.

The designer, Strauch, “believed in developing the landscape to harmonize with nature. He re-routed roads to follow the natural shapes of Spring Grove’s hills and valleys.

He built lakes, islands, footbridges, protected woodland areas,

and brought hundreds of trees and plants from other parts of the world,” (Spring Grove Cemetery).

“Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy! ”  John Keats ~  Ode to a Nightingale

The varied landscaping transports you from what might be a mysterious Louisiana swampland

to a stately Georgian plantation.

“Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.” Emily Dickenson

Gravemarkers range from the elaborate—

buildings made of marble and stone,

this one boasting flying buttresses—

to the simple.

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so . . .”  John Donne

“I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.”   W. B. Yeats ~ An Irish Airman Foresees his Death

“Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.”  Christina Rossetti ~ Remember


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